The Emulator II is a glorious slice of musical history, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed the process of turning it into an archival Kontakt instrument in the Emulator II Universe of Sounds libraries. But even before we embarked on that mammoth sampling session, a thought was stirring at the back of our minds. Wouldn’t it be cool if the Emulator hadn’t just been a sampler? Wouldn’t it be cool if it had been more of a synth as well?
Of course, the Emulator II did have some synthesiser-type capabilities: that awesome analogue filter, to name just one. But the dots didn’t really join up into something that you could use to create sounds from scratch. Enter the Synthulator, which is at its heart a very simple idea indeed: use the Emulator II as the basis of a sample-and-synth creation in the mould of the Roland D50.
Early S&S instruments managed a neat trade off between the undeniable accuracy of sampled sounds and the equally undeniable price of sample memory by dedicating a small amount of memory to a handful of short attack samples, which were then spliced onto synthesized (and hence non-memory-intensive) sustain waveforms. This trick relies on the human ear’s tendency to make most of its assumptions about the sound it’s hearing in the first few fractions of a second, and it led to some cracking S&S machines. Synthulator sits in that proud lineage.
Synthulator takes as its starting points a series of custom soundbanks, including all the core analogue waveforms (saw, sine, square, pulse, triangle etc). These we sampled into our EII and then back out again, to stamp them with all that wonderful 8-bit sonic impurity. There are also sustaining sounds taken from more complex instrument sources, so there are complex synth waves sourced from analogue and digital gear; and also things like the sustain portions of string and brass sounds.